December 01st, 2023

Velasquez receives merit awards from professional photographer’s association for her work

Julie Velasquez of Plains was named the April Photographer of the Month by the Kansas Professional Photographers Association. Courtesy photo

• Leader & Times

Like many talents, good photography requires continuous learning and updating one’s skills.
Julie Velasquez of Plains recently underwent some of that learning and was also awarded for her efforts in taking pictures.
Velasquez recently attended and graduated from the Professional Photographers Association Texas School of Photography in Addison, Texas, and was named the Kansas Professional Photographers Association’s Photographer of the Month for April.
Velasquez received two merits, one for volume sports and the other for event photography from the Texas school.
“We did weekend classes learning how to do team sports and events like tournaments and weddings, quinceaneras, things like that,” she said. “I had classes throughout the day. In the evenings, there were events. One night, we had a dance with a chuckwagon meal. The next night, we had a beach party, and we shot the event photography for that.”
As part of the beach party, Velasquez said the students in the class got to shoot pictures of professional models.
“They let all the photographers just kind of walk around the park,” she said. “You go from station to station shooting the professional models. They will have a contest, and that’s what I’m working on right now. You enter your photos, and you can win scholarships. You can win prizes that they give away for that.”
As part of the overall class, Velasquez, said she learned how to use different types of equipment from lighting to cameras to backdrops and software programs and vendors that can be used to do sports and event photography.
“I met a lot of friends, had a lot of fun,” she said. “I had an exhausting, but very informative week.”
Velasquez is also a member of the Professional Photographers of America
“I received a scholarship from the Professional Photography Association, and I was super excited because I’d wanted to go for three years,” she said. “I really couldn’t afford to go. I was nervous because I was going by myself, and it’s a week long. It was a lot for me to do, but I was really excited and honored. I was also chosen in April for the Professional Kansas Photographer Association Featured Member of the Month. That was very exciting as well.”
Naturally, Velasquez said being Photographer of the Month is quite an honor.
“They chose me out of hundreds of photographers in Kansas,” she said. “That was a pretty big honor for me. I was not expecting that.”
Having such a recognition, Velasquez said, likewise requires much effort.
“You do have to educate yourself and keep up with your membership, be involved in your community and in your state,” she said. “You have to be involved in the events that they have. Not only that, you also have to be involved in the charitable organizations. Photography is not just about making money. It’s about providing memories and historical documentation for your community members and the people that you care about.”
Velasquez said one misconception she thinks people have is that being a photographer is easy.
“In all reality, you can’t just take pictures with a camera,” she said. “It’s not the camera that does the work. It’s the person behind the camera and the way that they see. Photography is an art, so as an artist, you learn to not only take the picture, but post-process the picture, present the picture in a professional way and develop professional relationships with your clients or your community and the people you work with.”
Velasquez said a picture is not made when a photographer clicks the shutter on a camera.
“A picture is made for prepaying all the way to presentation,” she said. “One picture can take, depending on the setting and what type of picture you’re shooting, artist like myself can put up to 30 hours into a single picture, depending on what type of picture it is. I do a lot of compositing, and that does take time. It’s all in what you’re shooting and how you envision your final outcome of your print and where you’re shooting Everything goes into making a photograph, not just you’re there and you clicked the shutter and that’s what you did. Anyone can shoot a picture or a video. Anybody can take a picture, but not everyone has the vision of the final end product.”
Velasquez said there are huge differences between professional photographers and hobbyists or amateurs.
“You have a lot to learn as you grow, and it’s a continued learning process,” she said. “You’ll never know everything and see things come out vaguely. The more you educate yourself, the better informed that you are in the situation. It’s always better to be prepared and not have a job rather than to have a job and not be prepared.”
Velasquez owns her own photography business in Plains, and she said having that designation or even just being a hobby photographer is nonetheless a rewarding experience.
“You have the ability to control your schedule, to set your schedule,” she said. “I’m still involved with my children a lot. There in a lot of sports. I’m a mother. I’m a wife. I do a lot in the community. I’m able to set my own schedule and kind of do what I want.”
As for the people who have pictures taken, Velasquez said she does encourage everyone to print their pictures, whether they be hobbyists, amateurs or pros.
“Without prints, in 15 to 20 years, this generation will have no memories,” she said. “A lot of digital photographers just choose to do SD drives or CDs. I’m a full-service photographer, so I provide anything, any print products, photo gifts, anything that you would need. I would encourage printing because what is art if it is not seen.”
Velasquez said print photos are more permanent than those that are simply stored on devices or shared on social media.
“Although it is easily shared on social media, what happens if social media changes or if that flash drive gets wet or lost?” she said. “Those memories are gone forever. It is a big recommendation that you print your photos. One large portrait on your wall is better than nothing. I think one great picture from your session on your wall speaks loudly in your home.”
Velasquez said she walks her clients through the process of making pictures from start to finish.
“I sit down and kind of go over those things with them before we start the session so that they know what to expect and what products I can offer them,” she said. “That gives me an idea of when I’m doing the shoot what to have in mind for that family.”
Velasquez said she started working first as a hobby photographer before going into the business professionally. She did that for about 12 to 15 years before starting her own business in 2015.
“I started my photography in 4-H actually working on my 4-H projects and entering photographs in the fair,” she said. “I worked a little bit in the darkroom. I was in journalism in high school. I did yearbook photos and photos for the school. I always did photography with my children. I’ve always known that it was very important.”
Before she became a professional, Velasquez was a single mom. She is now married, and part of the reason she became a shutter bug is to have good photos of her children.
“I decided that I wanted something different,” she said. “I wanted more customizing neat memories of my kids.”
Velasquez said many photographers try to get inspiration from other picture takers, but she said every photographer needs to develop their own style.
“You want to present your art in a way that is unique and stands out from other photographers,” she said. “Every photographer has a different client base, and every photographer is needed for a different reason. Each client has a different need and wants a different vision, and that’s why each photographer should have their own style and their own with their people that they’re working with so that they are able to provide the best services and the best finished products for each client.”
To schedule a session with Velasquez, go online to www.julievalesquezphotography.com, or call 620-309-8437.